International ties

German media must abandon China stereotypes

(People's Daily Online)
Updated: 2010-06-23 10:38
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A disturbing trend is developing in the German media. News agencies there are increasingly engaging in stereotyping and vilification of China. According to a recent survey, a highly critical attitude is pervasive in German media coverage of China.

The survey by Germany-based Heinrich Boll Foundation is based on research from China-related reports by seven German media agencies such as Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, Südeutsche Zeitung, Der Spiegel, Focus magazine and Das Erste, as well as on questionnaires issued to relevant editors and reporters in China.

According to the report, stories from German media about China were generally incomprehensive and some were full of stereotypical views, which subsequently distorted China's image.

A scholar who participated in the survey said that more than one half of the 8,766 China-related reports were stereotypical as a result of conventional views toward China and had "dwarfed" China. The report has called on German media agencies to conduct self-reviews and self-reflection.

Adults tend to observe and explain the outside world with an established ideological framework, which can hardly be changed. It is tragic if the framework is too rigid and "well-established" and those who are paranoid may confine themselves.

Furthermore, it was a lazy approach to look at problems with stereotypical views, which is likely to come up with stereotyped conclusions. Since various countries have many cultural differences and face different development environments, these reactionary views are all the more terrible and are quite likely to lead to distortions. In this sense, German reporters should indeed take a hard look at themselves.

Germany's Daily Mirror said pro-China journalists "may feel excited now" when commenting on the report. This interesting comment indicates that there is considerable internal pressure in German media circles, or more precisely, journalists who favor China or want to provide relatively positive coverage of China tend to feel stressed. As common people who have to make a living, their stances are self-evident under such invisible pressure.

The German newspaper Neues Deutschland said that the German media has created many stereotypes of China such as a "faker," "robber baron during globalization," or "climate sinner." All these economy-related "accusations" have aroused a dim feeling that they are just psychological reactions caused by changes in the global economic pattern. Using others as scapegoats and burning witches are two ways of catharsis that have existed since ancient times and have brought various social disasters. Fascism is the worst ever disaster brought about by these improper ways of catharsis.

The preface of the report said the survey was conducted due to the widespread discontent among the Chinese government, the media and the public at Germany's inappropriate media coverage of China. Even the Chinese pro-Germany elite have complained a lot about the biased press reports. It is good that China has enhanced its international influence and can now put pressure on developed countries.

Two-way pressure is certainly better than one-way pressure and can help maintain a stable and balanced international community. Most media groups surveyed have not responded, except one newspaper, which published an article titled "No Conspiracy," claiming German media agencies have never organized any conspiracy against China.

It should be mentioned that the survey method is rather rigorous from the sociological perspective, and the findings are objective and fair.